Pokémon GO pulled a bait and switch this week when it released the three Legendary Beasts after weeks of speculation that September would bring the release of exclusive Mewtwo raids instead. It appears the exclusive raid concept needs more time in the oven (ie. beta testing) so instead we now have three months Legendary Beast hunting.
Entei, Raikou and Suicune are now spawning across the globe in Pokémon GO, but only in select regions, and the three will rotate after a month. Right now Entei is in Europe/Africa, Suicune is in Asia/Pacific and Raikou is in the Americas. Then they’ll switch and it’s anyone’s guess who will go where.
I will say this is…somewhat clever. The three moving around the globe somewhat reflects how they roamed from zone to zone in the Pokémon Gold and Silver handheld games, and I will say that a dedicated month to catch one beast is better than a week-long mad scramble to catch a bird, or two weeks to catch all the birds which all spawned together and split up potential raiding teams even further.
But I wish that Niantic had gone the extra mile here. In short, I wish that their rollout had been more in-depth and clever than just globally-rotating raid bosses. I actually wish the Legendary Beasts weren’t raid bosses at all in the traditional sense. Here’s what I mean.
In Gold and Silver, one of the most memorable parts of the game was stalking Entei, Raikou and Suicune across the map. And I do mean stalking. You had to run all over the map until you happened to be in the same zone as them, then you had to battle and cripple them multiple times (they often ran away) and then you could catch them (if you accidentally didn’t kill them first).
I would have loved to see the return of…actual tracking as a way to find the Legendary Beasts in the wild in Pokémon GO. It has been eons since I had the feeling of finding something truly amazing in the wild or seeing something I must have pop up on my nearby list. This was the entire point of the game until raids came along, finding Pokémon in the wild, but raid bosses mean you can catch a ton of the most powerful Pokémon in the game using that system, and nearby and tracking are barely even used now.
I would have rather had a blending of these two mechanics, raids and nearby tracking.
The idea would be that unlike the team effort of taking down a Legendary Bird boss, the hunt for the beasts would be individualized. They would spawn around you like shinies, able to be seen only by you specifically. You would walk to go find them wherever they had spawned, and then you would enter a private raid instance, not a catch instance, once you found them.
Then you’d battle them. They’d be tough, like raid bosses, but maybe a little easier since it’s a solo activity. You do as much damage as you can to them, but if your team is wiped out, they run. You keep doing this with the beast retaining the amount of health it had last time. Every time you find it on the map, you chip away more and more of its health until finally, once you get it below 10%, then the catch instance begins, and you try to throw balls at it to capture it. It may flee again (low capture rates and all), but the next time you find it, it will have the same amount of health and you can leap right into the capture instance once more. You do this for all three beasts, a hunt that could take days or weeks or months, but eventually you catch them all. After that, no more spawns, so everyone doesn’t have five or six copies of the beasts (I don’t believe in multiple copies of legendaries period)
I mean, doesn’t that sound cooler than making Legendary Beasts just another raid boss, with the only catch being the global location of its spawn? And it would be even more true to the spirit of the beasts in the handheld version, as it would actually require you to go outside and hunt Pokémon in the wild again, something GO has made almost irrelevant since it introduced raids.
Instead, the current system seems like the easy way out. Just make them raid bosses, flip a switch every month to change the spawns. The end. This is what I mean when I say that Pokémon GO needs more complex mechanics, and that Legendaries need to feel special when you capture them. Instead we have the same mechanic in place as when you’re fighting a Magikarp raid boss, but Legendaries hit 100x harder and you have 98% less of a chance to catch them. That’s it.
Again, grading on a curve, this is not a bad way to release the beasts, but I always find myself wanting more. More complexity, more challenge, more aspects of the game that allow me to start playing solo again instead of relying on random chunks of people to catch X or Y important Pokémon. The Legendary Beasts would have been an opportunity to do that, but instead they’re mostly being used as a stalling tactic for Mewtwo. Not ideal.
Counters to the 3 Legendary Beasts: